Taliban militants unleashed car bombs at the U.S. Consulate in western Afghanistan on Friday morning, triggering a fire-fight with security forces in an attack that killed at least two Afghans and wounded 17. The U.S. said its personnel from the mission were safe and that most of them were temporarily relocated to Kabul, while American forces secured the site.
The attack in Herat along with a suicide truck bombing in the east that wounded seven Afghans on Friday raises concerns of spreading insecurity as U.S.-led troops reduce their presence ahead of a full withdrawal next year.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi took responsibility for the Herat attack in a phone call with AP. Afghan and U.S. officials, meanwhile, offered slightly different accounts of what happened — differences which could not immediately be reconciled.
According to Gen. Rahmatullah Safi, Herat province’s chief of police, the attack began around 6 a.m. when militants in an SUV and a van set off their explosives-laden vehicles while others on foot fired on Afghan security forces guarding the compound in the city, 1,000 km from Kabul.
U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement that the assault began around 5-30 a.m., when “a truck carrying attackers drove to the front gate, and attackers possibly firing rocket propelled grenades and assault rifles started firing at Afghan forces and security guards on the exterior of the gates. Shortly after, the entire truck exploded, extensively damaging the front gate.”
The other attack took place in eastern Paktika province’s Sar Hawza district, said officials.Police recognised the vehicle was dangerous and shouted at the driver to stop but he ignored them. Police then opened fire, and the bomber detonated the explosives, causing a powerful blast, said the spokesman. Four police were wounded as were three members of the Afghan national army.
The road was badly damaged, and windows on nearby buildings were shattered.